You may have enough Superman action figures to populate Metropolis, or the sickest Man of Steel cosplay ever, or every Funko vinyl ever made in the image of Kal-el, but there is no Kryptonite for a Super-fan like a collectible you need to search infinite earths for.
Just try to obtain a figure that was only given out by DC to comic stores and distributors as a promo back in the early ‘40s, or a piece of original art that only one other fan ever got to own (and worship), or a certain movie poster variant so rare it wasn’t even included with the original promo materials. It almost can’t be done. Almost.
From unlikely gems that came out of cereal boxes to the rarest Superman comic in existence, these pieces of Man of Steel memorabilia will make you wish you had powers that could summon them.
Kellogg’s Pep cereal Superman button (1945)
You’re probably wondering what exactly these are and why postwar-era kids dug them out of the cereal dust at the bottom of Kellogg’s Pep boxes. Designed by Sam Gold, otherwise known as the mastermind behind cereal box treasures at the time, the 86 litho buttons in the series were even advertised by Superman. His face was on one. Whether Superman would bust out of that cardboard box was a mystery, and he’s worth $15 if you unearth him now.
Ensueño Lily Ledy Flying Heroes Superman (1979)
He might resemble a flying Ken doll more than a flying hero, but this 12-inch Mego-style figure (you know, the ones with soft bodies and rubber heads that come in varying degrees of weirdness) by the Mexican company Ensueño is rarer than an anthropomorphic alien in a cape crashing down to Earth. You could only find him in Mexico then, and he vanishes almost as soon as he appears now. Expect him to be worth about $100 in this planet’s currency.
Superman gum cards (1940)
Yes, there was actually such a thing as Superman gum. It wouldn’t make you fly or give you any other paranormal abilities, but its powers were in those collectible cards that came with it and lasted much longer than the flavor. The complete Gum Inc. Man of Steel collection is now nearly impossible to find. You’re probably more likely to visit Krypton, because only five people have it. Number one alone is so elusive that a mint or near-mint card is valued at over $8,500.
Superman picture puzzles (1940)
These Action Comics covers (and one from Superman’s then-new solo series) reimagined into puzzle form show the Man of Steel taking to the skies after saving a boy from being run over by a train, intercepting a missile that was seconds from vaporizing a naval warship, and soaring to the rescue of a woman falling helplessly from the roof of a skyscraper. With the set worth about $1,500, you’d probably rather frame these than take them apart again.
Superman wind-up rollover plane (1940)
Back when kids played with toys that weren’t plugged into a smartphone app, winding this thing up and watching Superman push the plane into action—before he flipped it over 360 degrees and did a repeat performance—must have looked like an amazing feat. Now any collector who knows what it’s worth would freak out if a kid even touched it, though, because its value has skyrocketed to around $1,400.
World War II-era Superman signs (1942-43)
What better way to get students involved in the war effort than by having Superman join forces with Uncle Sam? It’s not exactly “I Want You,” but paper posters showing the hero brazenly waving a flag for victory gardens and (more controversially) encouraging kids to “Help Smash The Axis" for Schools at War must have been way more effective at capturing their attention than long division. Superman’s patriotic side can now go from $1,000 - $3,600.
Superman promotional figural ashtray (1942)
While you might not expect an ashtray to be one of the most coveted Superman collectibles ever, that's what happens when said ashtray is designed by iconic Golden and Silver Age illustrator Wayne Boring. This wasn’t exactly attainable even back then. It only flew over to DC Comics distributors and retailers to promote Superman, and the majestically sculpted Man of Steel basically promotes himself, which is why he’s now worth over $2,300. Just ignore the ashtray part.
Popsicle Superman promotional booklet (1945)
Popsicle already advertised in DC and Action Comics, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that Superman swooped into this spiral-bound Popsicle promotional booklet to push war bonds and stamps while doing a “super-duper job” of hefting an enormous Popsicle... ? Fudgesicle? Creamsicle? ...over his head. So long as you didn’t get any sticky rainbow fingerprints on it, what you could once find in a Popsicle box for free could now be worth almost $2,600.
Battery-operated Superman tank (1958)
Even toys were influenced by the postwar specters that overshadowed the ‘50s. While Superman would have been an asset on the front lines, the next best thing to this actually happening, at least for a kid who already wanted to use superpowers to smash opposing powers, was a battery-operated tank that Superman could either lift or crush, depending on which side it belonged to. For just $3,000, he can perform this astounding feat again.
Superman and the Mole Men variant movie poster (1951)
Hardcore Superman collectors don’t need X-ray vision to see what sets apart this half-sheet, which promoted Superman’s first theatrical feature-length adventure, with TV hero George Reeves saving the world in full spandex. The design is completely different from the more mainstream (but still rare) Superman and the Mole Men poster, and wasn’t even included in the pressbook for the original release. That would be why it’s now worth over $4,000.
Original Wayne Boring art (1940s-1950s)
You know that ashtray by Wayne Boring which is now worth over two grand? Try anywhere from $4,000 - $6,000 for a piece of his original Superman art, depending if it’s in comic form or, even rarer, an ink drawing that there is only one of, on this or any other planet. The Silver Age drawing that comically (see what I did there?) shows Boring’s hands bringing Superman to life through pencil and ink was sent in response to a letter from one outrageously lucky fan.
Action Comics Superman contest prize ring (1943)
You know any ring that says “Supermen of America Action Comics” must be legit. When that ring could only be obtained by members of the Supermen of America club who entered a contest (sponsored by Action Comics) that involved writing what may have been the most difficult essay in the universe: “What I Would Do If I Had the Powers of Superman.” It might have only been priceless to a winner then, but one recently sold for $12,850.
Action Comics #1 (1938)
Superman’s first appearance is obviously first on the list of every Superman collector’s want list. You have an idea what to expect when #2 is already worth around $22,000. So many collectors were after a mint copy of this comic by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster that a 2014 auction, which started at just 99 cents, shot up to an unearthly $1.6 million in just two hours and kept soaring until it reached $2.16 million. That might be almost as legendary as Kal-el himself.